A Fairy Tale, Kind Of:
Once upon a time on a place called earth, men and women tried to figure out the best, most efficient way to care for themselves and their families. The women of the communities had babies and the children spent much time with them, playing and learning. With the children under foot, it was obvious the women could not easily protect themselves and the community. The men wanted to spend time with their children, so after some discussion, they decided they would switch out throughout the day, but in the end, the men and women both felt they only got half their work done in the time they had.
The men offered to take care of the children while the women hunted and protected the community. This worked for a bit, but the children wanted their mommas. The men comforted them with hugs and kisses, but the children continued to cry for their mothers and so the women went to them.
After the children were asleep, the men and the women sat down around the fire and discussed how to make the community work for the conditions in which they were living. The men said that taking care of the children was exhausting but that they would continue to do it if necessary. The women said it didn’t make sense for the men to stay with the children when they couldn’t nurse them and the children cried for their mothers. After much discussion, it was decided that the men would go out and hunt for the community and the women would stay and raise the children as well as work in and around the homes readying the community for each present and upcoming season.
This system worked well for many years until the men decided that since they were out hunting for the food of the people and protecting the communities, their work was the most important. They talked about their upper body strength and the extra small limb protruding from them and they began to believe that they were the supreme beings of the earth. They began to order the women around like they did the children. The women told them to stop and to back off, but the men hit them and said they were their property. The men decided they needed to have control over what was theirs so they could best protect it and in that, they were including the women, children, animals.
The Real Tale:
Men still hold the majority of the power in the community. Does that mean my grandfather, my father, my husband, and my son are bad? No. It means they too are stuck in a system. It also means men have the opportunity to change things. So do women.
The system in place now is patriarchal, meaning men have the main line of power over women. Patriarchy stacks the odds against women. It makes it harder to get jobs and to make the same amount of money as men. It says women can’t make decisions for ourselves, our bodies, our children and in our communities. It does not treat women fairly for our ideas, opinions, and concerns. Under patriarchy, we are seen as objects and we are undervalued.
Patriarchy also hurts men. It isn’t something men do. It’s a system and the way it is set up hurts us all. It forces men into a role of being conqueror, which implies they must be violent and ‘large and in charge’ rather than being able to be who they really are as humans with feelings about things.
I’ll give you an example. Recently, I sat with a male friend, (I won’t name names) who has a rare illness that there is currently no cure for. He told me that it scares him to go too far without his medication or out of the country where if he lost it or his bag was stolen, he might not have access to it. He is fine right now living a normal life with his family and job, but he has to take medicine daily. His doctor said if he goes too long without his medicine, it wouldn’t be good and forty-eight hours without it, he could die. When he said that, I could tell his eyes teared up, but he looked down so I wouldn’t see. Crying in this society is seen as a sign of weakness and men aren’t weak. Men aren’t supposed to cry. They can’t truly have feelings and still be real men. That is part of patriarchy.
The Matrifocal Point is the point in which society values women, stand up for women, prohibits all violence and objectification, dehumanizing and eroticizing of women. It is the point in which women and men are equally able to share in the society. At the Matrifocal Point, people of both genders are able to support and promote each others talents, successes, and dreams.
It is the point where women believe we are valuable enough in our own selves to value other women, to promote each others successes, thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and voices, as important, strong, deserving of respect, and necessary. It is the point when women, in every interaction with other women, in all communication with other women, and in ways we speak about and work with women strive to be stronger people in who we are and afford us more possibilities and options in the world at large.
Grrl Code: Work toward women being stronger. Work with women. Men aren’t bad, they are also part of the system. Work to change the system.